Merle Haggard is known to many, I guess, as a reactionary old country singer; but he emerges in a more interesting light in this (admittedly very sympathetic) documentary. His authentic interest in the music he loves, his unbombastic kind of patriotism, and his acute personal shyness are all appealing qualities; he comes across as a very private person trying to be as open as possible for the film-makers, but also as someone who, one can easily imagine, it might be hard to feel one really knows. The film glosses over the failure of his marriages - whatever sort of person you are, a marriage doesn't just end without some event - but still has a ring of truth to it. And although his life story starts interesting, and becomes less so, the man himself draws one's attention throughout.
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